COMMENTARY NOTES

Epigram 1 Nunc because this epigram was written after her return to Scotland in August 1561. Evidently Buchanan had shown her these paraphrases prior to their first publication in 1565, had gained her approval, and so dedicated them to her.

Epigram 7 Cirrha or Cyrrha was the harbor of Delphi. Permessus is a variant of the more familiar Parnassus.

Epigram 8 Not a very apt description of Portugal. Buchanan is feigning that has paraphrases are fresh work, written in Scotland (it might seem impolite to dedicate old work to a sovereign).

XXII.106 Waddel’s note:

The kingdom of the sea, the earth, and the heaven. Lucret. lib. V.92.

Principio maria ac terras, caelumque tuere,
Horum naturam triplicem, tria corpora, Memmi,
Tres species tam similes, tria talia texta,
Una dies dabit exitio, multosque per annos
Sustentata ruet moles et machina mundi.

Ovid. Trist. II.425.

Explicat ut causas rapidi Lucretius ignis,
spacer
Casurumque triplex vaticinatur opus.

Prudentius, Cath.

Terra, caelum, fossa ponti,
Trina rerum machina.

XLIV.17 Waddel’s note:

Our author here alludes to the public spectacles exhibited at Rome, one of which was bull-fighting. Now it was usual to provoke these creatures to the combat, by putting before them the effigies of a man or woman, made of purple rags (a colour with which it seems bulls are greatly enraged), and stuffed with straw, and this was called pila, or a ball, not so much for its shape, as on account of its lightness, and the materials of which it was made.

Cf. the Ecphrasis rendition, et superbos prosternemus quam facile tauros pannos purpureos instar pilae convulutos comminabundo.

LXVIII.24 Waddel’s note:

Our author represents the heaven as in the situation of a person out of breath, and sweating through fear.

LXXV.20 Cristas erigere (or tollere) is familiar proverbial expression for “grow prideful,” a phrase doubtless suggested by observation of the behavior of roosters. Cf. Erasmus, Adagiorum Chiliades I.viii.69.

LXXXI.16 I. e., the languages of the Hebrews and the Egyptians were mutually unintelligible. This is made explicit by the Ecphrasis, cum Hebraei in oris Aegyptiis vagerentur, sonumque sermonis peregrini non intellectum stupefacti acciperent, atque invicem sermonem Aegyptiis non intellectum incassum loquerentur.

LXXXIII.4 See the note on LXXV.20.

LXXXV.29 The Roman goddess of Justice. Buchanan describes the exact opposite of the situation which repeatedly occurs in classical poetry, when Astraea, disgusted with human manners, abandons the earth and returns to heaven (Ovid, Metamorphoses I.150, Ps.-Seneca, Hercules Oetaeus 69, etc.).

spacerXC.7 Waddel’s note:

I. e., before there was a separation between the light and the darkness.

spacerCII.51 Waddel’s note:

Divided into three parts, viz. Europe, Asia and Africa.

This is spelled out by the Ecphrasis, qua terra in tres partes, Africam, Europam, et Asiam divisa habitatur.

spacerCIII.30 Waddel’s note:

Gades is an island without the straights of Gibraltar, in the fourth part of Spain, divided from the continent by a small creek; and it is still called Cadiz, and corruptly Cales. This island the ancients imagined was the utmost boundary of the world towards the west; and the poets feigned that the sun, when weary with his labour though the day, went down here into the ocean to repose himself.

CIX.15 Waddel’s note:

Our author alludes to a custom of the Romans in their criminal courts, where the pannels [defendants], when brought to the bar, were always clothed toga sordida, witha mourning gown, whence they were called by Livy and others sordidatae, and this gown they wore until sentence was pronounced by the judge.

The Ecphrasis has Quum autem veste lugubri indutus ad solium iudicis venerit.

CIX.25 Waddel’s note:

Literally, put a ticket upon the houses; for it was the custom of the Romans, as with us, to affix a ticket upon the outside of such houses as were either to be let or sold. Hence Plautus [Trinummus 168], Aedes venales hasce inscribit literis; and Terence [Heauton Timorumenos 144], Inscripsi illico aedes.